Source: The Daily Union

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Audio: City Manager Gerald Smith, County Commissioner Ben Bennett speak at Leaders Retreat local session
Smith and Bennett previewed 2014 focuses

by Tim Weideman

January 14, 2014

Listen to Junction City Manager Gerald Smith and Geary County Commissioner Ben Bennett speak at this morning's Leaders Retreat local session hosted by the Junction City Area Chamber of Commerce and the Flint Hills Regional Council.

The local session served to prepare attendees for this weekend's regional Leaders Retreat in Overland Park, a joint effort between the Junction City, Manhattan, Wamego chambers of commerce and leaders in those areas.

A few of Smith's talking points:

- He brings experience in economic development from his previous jobs to Junction City.

- On the debt load of about $150 million: "That is a challenge," he said. "It's not undoable, but it's a challenge and a burden."

- City needs to work on continuing to meet its obligations to a growing population.

- To continue to provide services, the city must create additional revenue streams that will support underfunded city services, slowly relieve the over-dependence of sales tax revenue, increase city reserves to a responsible level and not burden the already "over-burdened" taxpayer.

- In 45 to 60 days, city staff will propose to the City Commission ideas to create those revenue streams. The city will work to focus on understanding the "rippling effect" of those policies when put in place.

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Following Smith's update, Geary County Commissioner Ben Bennett spoke about what the county is focusing on heading forward.

A few of Bennett's talking points:

- Government agencies within Geary County are working together much more than when Bennett was elected eight years ago. That cooperation will need to continue and expand to a broader, regional approach.

- Economic development growth can still affect the county's operations, even if it happens in Junction City.

- Geary County is where it is today because of Fort Riley and its economic impacts.

- The county is focused on balancing property tax rates and providing services to its residents.

Note: You may have to increase the volume on your device.